The major reason behind Joschka Fischer’s argument for deepening European integration is the forthcoming eastward enlargement of the European Union. As he puts it:
In the coming decade, we will have to enlarge the EU to the east and south-east, and this will, in the end, mean [a] doubling in the number of members. And at the same time, if we are to be able to meet this historic challenge and integrate the new Member States without substantially denting the EU’s capacity for action, we must lay the last brick in the building of European integration, namely political integration.
According to Fischer, the outcome of the integration process will be a European federation, preceded by the formation of a ‘centre of gravity’ within the Union; an ‘avant-garde, the driving force for the completion of political integration.’
Fischer’s vision has been met with a great dose of scepticism, if not open hostility, among officials of the Eastern European applicant states. Some of them are worried that any ambitious reform project might further delay their entrance to the Union. Others fear erosion of the national sovereignty that they fought so hard to regain in their struggles against Soviet domination. Others again fear that far reaching reforms might arrive before they are in a position to shape them as full EU members. These are all important concerns that are being ignored by Western commentators debating the future of European integration in a most self-centred manner.
Candidates from Eastern Europe have no interest in paralysing European institutions. Like Fischer, they want the Union to work efficiently after their accession. However, as I will argue in this paper, enlargement and Fischer’s vision are basically incompatible, despite all the assurances and qualifications spelled out by Fischer himself. I will try to show that a political federation within an enlarged Union is no longer possible, while... [continues]
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